August #AuthorTip: Avoid Harmful Comparisons

Continuing this post series with a tip for not letting other authors’ successes destroy your confidence:

Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes with someone else’s highlight reel. Learn and embrace your writing cycle.

A lot of times, you might see authors posting truly impressive word count updates and feel like you’re dragging your feet. Or you might see someone publishing four titles a year while you’re struggling to put out one. The thing is, you rarely see someone’s struggle online–we tend to keep that bottled up pretty well and only post our triumphs. It’s both a boost for us and a way to make it look easy. We want to make ourselves look good. Like we know what we’re doing… ’cause we totally do! No, seriously. 😉

But you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. Could be those four books had been written over the last ten years. Could be someone writes 20,000 words in a week and then doesn’t turn on the computer for the next month. Everyone writes at their own pace, and that works for them. Rather than try to emulate them, learn what works for you, and embrace it.

Do you write a little every single day? Great! Keep at it. Do you write in massive bursts for weeks and then need a month or so off to recharge (like I do)? That works, too. Do you word-vomit the first draft in record speed and then go back to flesh it out over ten months and fifty drafts? Go for it. Do you prefer to write cleaner first drafts to see the story take shape on the page as you go? You do your thing!

The point is, whatever gets you from Chapter 1 to The End is what you need to be doing. There’s no universal formula to make you write faster or better, you just have to sit down and do it, and not let other people’s achievements undermine your own. Don’t compare, don’t envy, don’t emulate… just write.

Continue Reading August #AuthorTip: Avoid Harmful Comparisons

August #AuthorTip: Self-Confidence and Humility

Continuing this post series with a tip for trusting yourself and your book:

Don’t look to others for validation. You can never please everyone, and trying will only make you miserable.

It’s no secret that you need pretty thick skin in this business. Critics lurk in every corner of the world, including right at home. And “haters” will go out of their way to make you feel like complete and utter shit, sometimes under the pretense of “helping you.”

Here’s the thing. No one starts out a best seller. You have to write a million words before what you put on paper starts to resemble an enjoyable book. You are always learning, and growing and the feedback won’t always be glowing praise. But there’s a huge difference between constructive criticism, which points out issues and suggests ways to fix it, and just plain hateful critique that just breaks you down to make the other person feel better.

You have to learn to accept the former with humility and grace and look at the comments objectively. It’s not personal, it’s an opportunity to learn–because we are all constantly learning and looking for ways to do just a little better than last time. It’s part of the journey and if you reject it, the only person you’re cheating is yourself. Your readers won’t put in the effort into reading your books if they see you’re not willing to put in the effort to write them as best as you can.

The latter, you’re under no obligation to listen to, whether it comes from your mom, a well-known author, or your best friend. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt, especially if it comes from someone whose opinion you deeply value. When there’s a strong emotional connection, it can be difficult to separate a personal opinion from constructive feedback.

And we’re talking about your book baby here; there will always be a strong emotional response to anything anyone says. So how can you tell if the feedback is constructive or just plain cruel? It helps to distance yourself, take a breather and take an objective look at what they said. Is there anything in their feedback that you can use to improve the story? If so, swallow your pride do it. If not, let it go and move on.

Continue Reading August #AuthorTip: Self-Confidence and Humility